Wow, great start to the NHL finals last night!
That series is just heating up, and we are sure to have plenty to draw from as it progresses! However, before we get going down that road, we wanted to chat with you about the unbelievable and unprecedented win by the Finns at this year’s World Hockey Championships. We understand the World’s don’t really get the interest they deserve in North America, but for someone who has spent a lot of time around European hockey, man it’s a big deal for countries over the pond.
What amazed us about the Finns win was who they beat and how they did it. How their big body captain Antilla who couldn’t muster a goal in the tournament's round robin but scored 4 in his last 3 games, including 2 in the finals to have their countries national anthem sung after the big WIN. And how about who they beat? This team didn’t get any fortunate draws. They had to roll with all the big boys, facing their arch rival Sweden in the quarters, then shutting out arguably the tournaments best teams in Russia and yes, unfortunately for all of us Canadians a comeback victory in the finals over a pesky NHL laden team Canada.
NHL laden? Did it matter? Nope. Not for the Finns. They only had 2 players that played NHL games on their roster, and here’s the catch, not one of them scored an NHL goal this season. And let’s be honest, Canada is hockey. But Finland is too. Right now, in this moment, they are arguably the best at developing talent per capita. Why? They do some great development work no question, but after working with so many NHL Finns over our careers, we've noticed on thing they do stubbornly well. They play a really structured game and "embrace the dog". Embrace the Dog you might be asking? Yeah baby, they embrace the underdog role like no other country I’ve ever seen. They know that by staying disciplined with their structure, continuing to believe, rarely getting rattled, that the big moment will come and with a strike, the game is tied, another strike they are in the lead and with that classic 1-2-2 NZ FC and their commitment to getting in shooting lanes defensively, the Finns are just tough to score against. The rest is history. They WIN. A little country with a population just over 5M inhabitants has won Gold at the IIHF’s world tournament 3 times in 1995, 2011 and in 2019. They’ve also had success in North America, finishing 2nd in the 2004 Canada/World Cup and have won 2 silver and 4 bronze medals at the prestigious Winter Olympic Games. Remember, all for a country with a similar population to the GTA.
We can’t help but notice this exceptional performance. With Ovechkin, Kucherov, Kuznetskov, and Malkin staring them down, the European professional players of Finland held strong and embraced the dog. Having to match a pesky physical young Canadian team that had decent skill pieces in Chabot and Stone didn’t seem to matter either. You see, it’s all in your perspective. With the right mix of work, belief, love of country, discipline to stay in structure, and embracing that dog unprecedented things can happen. They have for the Finns and we love it. Congrats to them and the wonderful people of their beautiful country.
But you see, you can have that type of special success too. Just use that recipe from the Finns. You gotta love to work. You gotta believe in you, in the moment, and where you are going. You gotta love to represent country, team, family, and you gotta stay the course. Straight lines baby. When you do this, you’ll embrace the dog and when you strike big things will happen!